Musk

For a week or so after he impaled his hand on the weasel trap he'd set near the chickenhouse, Hazard Holman could smell women. Men too, but that did not interest him greatly. He knew their workings already.

Old people and children smelled either dirty or clean. Everyone else, sweet Jesus. The words he had didn't do what the smells did to him. Words like yeast-bread, musk, rot, oysters.  He had cold sweats, lusts, and sudden revulsions. The inner workings of love were revealed to him.

The meetinghouse Sunday fairly hummed with the density of women. Jinny Rathburn of the pretty blue eyes smelled blank as an elbow and he knew their summer of courting was nothing.  He could smell Ellen Mae Green's longing like vinegar in a skillet whenever the Wilson's hired hand walked by.

But the widow, Mrs. Olsen, with her clean-bottomed boys and milk-necked baby, how had he always passed her by? She hungered with the apricot-earth of a fresh chanterelle and the dusty molasses of horses' oats. He took out his hymnal. He raised up his voice. She turned her head to him and she smiled.

-Becca Rose Hall